Sunday, July 6, 2014

Kenya Troubles

At least 48 men were killed when armed gunmen stormed into a Kenyan coastal town and launched a major assault on a police station, hotels and government offices, officials there tell us.
Around 50 heavily-armed men dressed like police officers drove into the town of Mpeketoni, near the coastal island and popular tourist resort of Lamu, late on Sunday, June 15th.

We're told they first attacked a police station before starting to randomly shoot at men on the streets.

One source tells us, "Witnesses say they asked the locals if they were Muslims or Christians; they immediately shot any who were Christians. They also broke into houses and dragged the men into the streets to execute them. Women and children were released, but houses and cars were set on fire. The ensuing gun battle with Kenyan security forces lasted for almost five hours."
Lamu deputy commissioner Benson Maisori said several buildings in the town -- which is around 100 kilometres  south of the border with Somalia -- were burned down including hotels, restaurants, banks and government offices.  The community is about 90% Christian.

Many children are
left without fathers.
Church friends in Mombasa hired vehicles this week and took food and clothing and some cash to address immediate needs.  It's what you do when there's need.  Working through the local churches in Mpeketoni, the help is received gratefully and thoughtfully applied.  The great tragedy, families and the community are shattered, children left without fathers, mothers left to fend for themselves in an economy that virtually shut down because of the attack.
Our friends there tell us the gunmen may have originated in the Mombasa area. They hired a vehicle and killed the driver.  They later burned the vehicle to hide their actions.  Police are investigating.
Internal tensions continue to flare up in Kenya despite progress in governance and economic growth.  The country is still harshly divided by class distinctions, mostly along tribal lines, that disenfranchise many.  The gap between rich and poor is wide and unjustly maintained.
The Christians and Muslims we've met in Kenya tell us they're proud of being able to live graciously together, but as one worker describes, "This incident happened against the backdrop of a complex mix of ethnic and religious tension."   A church leader spoke honestly about this difficult time. "Many Christians have left. Others stayed but do not come to church anymore out of fear. We now visit them in their homes, counseling and trying to encourage them to come back to church. Some are slowly coming back but others are not yet strong enough. One told me the other day, 'You continue going to church because you have faith, when I get more faith like you, I will come back to church.'"
Kenyan tourism, a primary industry, has come to a standstill in the region.  Beaches normally packed with European tourists and their children are vacant. Hotels and resorts are empty, many closed. Many hundreds whose livelihood depends on the industry are now without work or other means of survival.

Your prayers for our friends and all the others there would be appreciated.
What churches do ...